So last month, the British Medical Journal published an interesting analysis that showed a reduction in opioid deaths in areas where medical or recreational cannabis dispensaries were located. We are going to talk about the details of the study and analyze it a bit more. However, it should be noted that either way, this finding is significant because the United States has a veritable opioid crisis.
Let’s Get Something Straight
Additionally, before we get into the study itself, it’s important to emphasize that though the results showed a correlation – NOT causation. For example, the countries around the world that eat a lot of chocolate win the most Nobel Prizes. That’s true, plain and simple. However, does that mean that chocolate is the reason or the cause for the number of Nobel Prizes? Heck no! The true cause is wealth. A richer country will not only have more resources for scientific research, they will also have more chocolate.
The Opioid Epidemic
Ok, so what is an opioid? An opioid is a type of prescription pain reliever, such as morphine, or a type of street drug such as heroin. The stem from the opium poppy plant. As of writing this article, 2 out of 3 drug overdoses in the US in 2018 involved an opioid. Additionally, more than three-quarters of a million people have died from a drug overdose in the past 20 years. In 2018, there were more than 46,000 fentanyl opioid deaths. In other words, this is a serious problem and it’s called a “crisis” for a reason.
Can We Avoid Future Opioid Deaths?
Several studies to date have looked into whether cannabis legalization has impacted opioid mortality rates. The results were mixed. This can be true of many studies, especially those analyzing studies themselves. However, a group of researchers theorized that one of the reasons for the inconclusive or mixed results was the fact that the studies focused on analysis by state and by legality. This posed some issues.
The problem they saw was two-fold. First, legalization does not equal access. In other words, the time between when cannabis is legalized and when consumers can legally access it at a dispensary can take months or years. Moreover, many states that have legalized cannabis have counties within them that still restrict cannabis dispensaries from operating. In other words, the times measured were not an accurate frame of reference. Additionally, location and availability may have compromised results as well.
Significant Decreases in Opioid Deaths
So this group of researchers decided to do a county-by-county analysis. Their data set included 812 counties within 23 US states that allowed dispensaries to operate. They analyzed two sets of data from 2014 to 2018: opioid deaths from people 21 and up, and the number of operating dispensaries in a particular area. They found that counties with a higher number of active dispensaries were associated with lower numbers of opioid deaths.
Specifically, they found that an increase from one to two dispensaries in a country was associated with an estimated 17% reduction in opioid deaths. Furthermore, an increase from two to three dispensaries correlated with an additional 8.5% reduction in opioid deaths. Interestingly, the association was true for both medical and recreational dispensaries.
The researchers differentiated between different types of opioids as well, especially because in recent years the mortality rates from opioid use have largely been driven by deaths involving the synthetic opioid fentanyl. So they examined data for prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioids other than methadone. Additionally, the results were particularly strong for death associated with synthetic opioids. This did not include methadone.
Again, correlation does NOT equal causation. Thus the researchers caution that it is premature to conclude that cannabis legalization is the answer to the opioid crisis. They call for further experimental studies to allow policymakers to make informed decisions. However, these results are quite promising and could provide for some great studies in the future.
About OMG THC
We’re homegrown in Las Vegas, Nevada. We embrace niches others in the Cannabis market ignore or reject. Vegan? Diabetic? Gourmet cook? Old-school hash connoisseur? Looking for a specific ratio of CBD and THC in your products? You got it! We’ve got you covered!
Additionally, we care about quality and the effects our products have on people’s lives & health. OMG THC use only CO2 and ethanol extraction methods. We NEVER use butane or other petrochemicals to extract our oils. We want our products to be easy on the body and safe for our team to make.
Our products are simple and they are great. From the cannabis oils, we use to the packaging and the varieties of our products. Finally, and best of all, our edibles are damn delicious! In other words, if we wouldn’t want to eat them, we aren’t going to sell them to anyone else. We NEVER cut our concentrates with anything – period! EVER! We use top-of-the-line C-Cell hardware – always. We ensure quality and purity.
For Adult Use Only
For adults 21 and over. Keep our products out of reach of children and pets. Be smart. Be Vigilant. Finally, enjoy our products responsibly and keep everyone safe.
As always, feel free to Contact OMG THC with any questions or comments you might have. We’re here for you and we’re responsive to your needs. If you’d like to locate OMG THC products, check out our dispensaries list. You can also find out more about OMG THC on Leafly.